MRI for patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices: simplifying complexity with a 'one-stop' service model

BMJ Qual Saf. 2019 Oct;28(10):853-858. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2018-009079. Epub 2019 Feb 13.


Background: Patients with cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators are disadvantaged because of poor access to MRI scans, leading to late and misdiagnosis particularly for cancer and neurological disease. New technology allied to tested protocols now allows safe MRI scanning of such patients; however, logistical barriers persist.

Aim: To deliver a streamlined sustainable service that provides timely MRI scans to patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs).

Methods: Patients requested a 'one-stop' service for MRI, whereby devices could be reprogrammed and scans acquired at a single location and visit. To provide this 'one-stop' service, we trained a team including administrators, physicians, cardiac physiologists and radiographers. A standard protocol was used to prevent unnecessary request refusals and delays to scheduling. Service volume, waiting time and safety were analysed 6 months before and 2 years after service redesign. Waiting times for internal and external inpatient referrals plus time to treatment for patients on a cancer pathway were analysed.

Results: 215 MRI scans were performed over 2 years. After service redesign, MRI provision increased six-fold to 20 times the national average with reduced waiting time from 60 to 15 days and no adverse events. Departmental throughput was maintained. 85 (40%) referrals were external. 41 (19%) inpatients were scanned, reducing bed-stay by 3 days for internal referrals. 24 (11%) scans were for suspected cancer, 83% allowed treatment within the national standard of 62 days. There was no preintervention service for either inpatients or suspected cancer investigation.

Conclusion: Implementation of a 'one-stop' service model to provide MRI for patients with CIEDs is safe, streamlined, scalable and has reduced delays making economic and clinical sense. Protocols and checklists are available at

Keywords: CIED; MRI; Quality improvement; health inequality; teamwork.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*
  • Patient Safety
  • Quality Improvement
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging